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Sanctions against Russia could cause the International Space Station (ISS) to crash, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Saturday.
Dmitry Rogozin said the punitive measures, some of which predate Russia's invasion of Ukraine, could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft servicing the ISS.
The Russian segment of the station, which helps correct its orbit, could be affected, causing the 500-tonne structure to “fall down into the sea or on to land”, Mr Rogozin wrote on Telegram.
“The Russian segment ensures that the station's orbit is corrected [on average 11 times a year], including to avoid space debris”, said Mr Rogozin, who regularly expresses his support for the Russian army in Ukraine on social networks.
He published a map of the locations where the ISS could possibly crash and said that it was unlikely to hit Russia.
“But the populations of other countries, especially those led by the 'dogs of war', should think about the price of the sanctions against Roscosmos”, he said, describing the countries who imposed sanctions as “crazy".
Mr Rogozin raised the threat of the space station falling to earth on Twitter last month while criticising western sanctions.
On March 1, Nasa said it was trying to find a solution to keep the ISS in orbit without Russia's help.
Crews and supplies are transported to the Russian segment by Soyuz spacecraft.
But Mr Rogozin said the launcher used for take-off had been “under US sanctions since 2021 and under EU and Canadian sanctions since 2022".
Roscosmos said it had contacted Nasa, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency “demanding the lifting of illegal sanctions against our companies".
Space is one of the remaining areas where the US and Russia continue to co-operate.
At the beginning of March, Roscosmos announced its intention to make the construction of military satellites a priority as Russia finds itself isolated as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Mr Rogozin also announced that Moscow would no longer supply engines for the US Atlas and Antares rockets.
“Let them soar into space on their broomsticks,” he wrote.
US astronaut Mark Vande Hei and two cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, are scheduled to return to Earth from the ISS on-board a Soyuz spacecraft on March 30.